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Use of Alcohol and Unprescribed Drugs after Suicide Bereavement: Qualitative Study

Eng, J; Drabwell, L; Stevenson, F; King, M; Osborn, D; Pitman, A; (2019) Use of Alcohol and Unprescribed Drugs after Suicide Bereavement: Qualitative Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health , 16 (21) , Article 4093. 10.3390/ijerph16214093. Green open access

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Abstract

Studies describing the impact of suicide bereavement report an excess risk of suicide, suicide attempt, psychiatric illness, and drug and alcohol use disorders compared with the general population. However, the nature of patterns of drug and alcohol use after suicide bereavement is unclear. We used an online survey to collect qualitative data to understand whether and how drug and alcohol use changes after suicide bereavement. We conducted thematic analysis of free-text responses to a question capturing their use of alcohol and drugs after the suicide of a family member or a close friend. Analysing data from 346 adults in Britain aged 18–40, we identified three main themes describing the relationship of suicide bereavement to alcohol or drug use: (1) control over drug or alcohol use, (2) the perceived purpose of using drugs or alcohol, and (3) the attribution of drug or alcohol misuse to external factors. Overlying these themes were dimensions of control and of awareness of potential harms. This study highlights that increased use of drugs and alcohol after suicide bereavement may form part of a bereaved person’s coping strategies, and that sensitive approaches are needed when judging whether and when to intervene.

Type: Article
Title: Use of Alcohol and Unprescribed Drugs after Suicide Bereavement: Qualitative Study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph16214093
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214093
Language: English
Additional information: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Keywords: suicide; bereavement; grief; alcohol; drug; qualitative research; thematic analysis
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Primary Care and Population Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10084527
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